Central Lakes College (CLC) is embarking on its 15th year of “armchair” travel and in-person cultural exchanges in its Cultural Thursday program.
In the fall of 1998, Thursday noon was designated as a time for community members, faculty and students to share their travels and cultures in these free, hour long presentations. Jan Kurtz, Spanish and Latin American studies instructor, initiated Cultural Thursday and it continues into this 15th season.
“The mission of Culture Thursday is to avail our community of our collective global experiences, encourage travel among our students, as well as to acquaint us with our international students,” said Kurtz. The first programs were held in E358, with a dozen attendees, circled up in school desks, learning how to make Ojos de Dios (God’s Eyes) for Christmas, trying an Irish jig to hearing stories about being a woman in Afghanistan in the 1970s.
Soon, the audience outgrew the classroom, moving to the Lecture Hall and then the Chalberg, where technology added large screen slide shows and musical clips. Audiences have vicariously joined the Brainerd Medical team doing outreach in Guatemala, Haiti and Tanzania. Sociologist, Gary Payne, a repeat favorite, has taken Cultural Thursday guests to Cuba, Surinam, Dominica, Venezuela, to name a few. His educational materials are highlighted with his professional photography and always, an account of narrow escapes. CLC international students have delighted in bringing their cultures to the community. And, CLC students have joined trips to Italy, Spain, England, Mexico, returning home to tell us of their adventures. Although originally, Cultural Thursday focused on travel, “foreign cultures” and exchanges, it has recently included deaf culture and had Marjorie Benjamin, executive chief from the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, speak.
This season we begin with an excursion to Vietnam at noon Sept. 5 in the Chalberg Theatre on the Brainerd campus. Michael Hopps, CLC geography instructor, will provide a guided tour of Vietnam which he visited in July of 2012. Michael flew into Hanoi in the north and traveled the length of the country by bus and sometimes motorbike. He also traveled by boat up the Mekong River and ended up in Cambodia where he toured the ancient temple site of Angkor Wat and finally flew home from Ho Chi Minh City.
This event is free and open to the public.